ruviaro's blog

[paper] From Schaeffer to *LOrks: an expanded definition of musical instrument in the context of laptop orchestras


Paper presented at SEAMUS 2011, January 20-22, 2011, Miami, FL, and at SLEO 2012, April 15-17, 2012, Baton Rouge, LA.

Paper is included in the SLEO 2012 Proceedings. [click to download]

The slides that accompanied the presentation can be found here.

*LOrk digression #9 — In case you were wondering

In case you were wondering, all these *LOrk digressions did not come out of nowhere. Many of them are reflections directly connected to my own great experience with SLOrk in the Spring of 2010, when my piece Intellectual Improperty 0.6 was composed and performed.

*LOrk digression #8 — The enigma remains...

The recoup of sound proximity by the performer doesn't come without new problems. A more sophisticated vocabulary of “instrumental” gestures would certainly help to infuse the regained sound localization with new meaning; but a rich gestural vocabulary (if possible at all) has not yet developed, having been limited up to now to relatively simple connections between gesture and sound.

*LOrk digression #7 — Localized multi-speaker salad bowls

One of the biggest differences of some modern laptop orchestras in relation to other laptop ensembles is the utilization of dedicated speakers next to each performer.

*LOrk digression #6 — “I pledge to believe they are not checking e-mail”

When ten or twenty musicians sit on the floor on colorful cushions with their laptops sitting on nice little breakfast tables in front of them, a theatrical situation is created: the audience is led to accept those everyday objects as musical instruments in some way (more, perhaps, than when a solo laptop performer sits on stage). It is a kind of implicit pact that the public seems generally willing to accept.

*LOrk Digression #5 — "Dance" music?

By using external controllers of various sorts (usually of a more “gestural” nature, beyond the keyboard-and-trackpad paradigm), a laptop performer engages on gestural activity that reconnects her, at least on one level, with the dimension of movement as discussed in my previous tentative definition of musical instrument.
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